Cromwell Valley Park Family Session

This was my third time photographing Garrett and I think you'll have to agree, he's grown into quite the handsome two-year old! It was a beautiful morning when we met almost two weeks ago at Cromwell Valley Park for a family session. And Garrett was such a cutie in his tweed vest. We had fun exploring the outbuildings, park grounds, stopping for a snack and wading the creek. This session has me so happy! So much about these pictures made me smile as I went through them again. I hope you feel the love and joy captured in them.

Those big blue eyes!

Real Nutrition

When I was little I remember sprawling on the red and white tiled linoleum floor of the kitchen looking at the glossy pages of my mom's Good Housekeeping and Betty Crocker cookbooks. I was drawn to the beauty of food, the mouth-watering feasts and intricately decorated desserts.

And I still love food. I love to try new recipes. To taste new flavors. To feel the comfort of a perfectly hot cup of hot chocolate on a rainy night. The crisp crunch of greens drizzled with dressing and combined with pears, walnuts, and blue cheese. The smell of a stew simmering on the stove.

But I was reminded the other morning what real nutrition is all about. It's about meditating on God's Word.

While reading Look Unto Me Spurgeon reminded me that, "There are times when solitude is better than fellowship and when silence is wiser than speech. We would be better Christians if we spent more time alone, waiting on God and finding spiritual strength for service to Him by mediating on His Word. We should ponder the things of God because only then will we get real nutrition from them."

"Hearing, reading, examining, and learning all require inward digestion to complete their usefulness, and that inner digesting of truth takes place primarily by meditating on it."

Do I approach God's Word like it is my source of nutrition? Like I can't live without it?

It's my desire to that would not only know that God's Word is my daily bread but feel it too.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. -Joshua 1:8

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. -Jeremiah 15:16

 

Weekending

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I'm joining up with The Habit of Being for her Weekending link up . . . 

This weekend started on Friday because Josh was off.

I spent Friday going through all the clothes in the house, switching out the summer clothes for the winter. I was able to do this in relative peace, thankfully, because Josh took the kiddos to the local nature center and estuary. I was reminded again how thankful I am for everyone who passes down their kids' clothes to mine. I discovered two winter coats--one a Nike and the other Land's End--in the attic that I'd forgotten about but had been saving for the boys for probably over a year now. What a blessing, and I'd completely forgotten!

I also got to go and dig through books at the library book sale, something I always look forward to! And look at all the great books I discovered for a mere $6!

We watched the first episode of this. Anyone a fan? Not sure if I am yet or not . . .

Saturday morning was spent running errands. Josh helped his grandparents with some work they needed done and then I did some baking: granola and these muffins made for the week ahead.

Some work on paying bills and budgeting, and then our weekly pizza night.

Today has been gorgeous! Sunny and delightfully warm. Church in the morning and a surprise meeting up with an old friend. Then a picnic lunch at church before spending the rest of the day at Hampton National Historic Site. What a gorgeous place rich with history. Not to mention I found a new location for photo shoots! I'll have a follow-up post about our visit soon.

Tonight it's Psycho and knitting. I love Hitchcock and was inspired to watch Psycho again after seeing the preview for this upcoming movie. Doesn't it look good?

How was your weekend?

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Last Sunday was cold and rainy, so we thought it fitting to make our first batch of hot chocolate. We used Nestle-Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate that my friend Jessica left with us on her last visit. You essentially melt a chocolate disk in milk until frothy. It's utterly tasty. However, I have a homemade version that's even better, and when I have the time to make it it's such a treat. I think of it as a dessert, more than a drink. It's rich, smooth, and creamy. Perfect for a cold rainy day!

I hope you try it!

Mexican Hot Chocolate (Serves 4)

1/4 C. sugar 1/4 C. unsweetened cocoa 1/2 Tsp. instant coffee powder or granules 1/8 salt 1 C. water 1 stick cinnamon (if I don’t have a stick I just sprinkle some cinnamon into it) 2 C. milk 1 C. half-and-half 1 Tbs. vanilla extract 1/8 tsp. ground cloves

In a 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar, cocoa, instant coffee, and salt. Stir in water; add cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes

Add milk and half-and-half to cocoa mixture, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat.

Mix in vanilla and cloves; remove cinnamon stick; beat until foamy, then serve.

Unexpected Stillness

Yesterday, running out of the door for Classical Conversations I popped vitamins in my mouth. I didn't think it would be a big deal. I had my coffee and pumpkin bread with me to eat on the way. My stomach wouldn't be empty for long.

However, it was a big deal.

I ended up getting sick and having a pounding headache. I won't give you the gory details, but I learned my lesson.

I was supposed to help in the toddler's class but someone else covered for me and I found myself taking a walk in the fresh cold air. I noticed the changing colors of the leaves. Orange fruit that I couldn't identify hung on a try, vibrant against the browns and greens.

Getting back in my car, reclining the seat and closing my eyes, I was a bit at a loss as to what to do with myself for the next 2 hours. I wish I'd brought a book, but my pounding headache would probably have prevented me from reading. I checked my phone for emails, Facebook and Instagram feeds.

Despite my physical state, my mind was restless and had a hard time quieting.

At last it did. I found myself praying and just enjoying silence. After a while, I listened to a podcast by Donna Otto. The series was on drawing near to Christ.

I appreciated her insight into what "drawing near" looks like. And this quote particularly captured me:

The reason for stillness and solitude and silence is that you'd get to know your God. It's the drawing near. He is a God that can be known. Too much silence draws us away from the very life God called us to relationally with one another. Too much noise can pull us away from God.  

Immediately, I could identify with the tension between desiring the silence that draws me to God, as well as the noise that can draw me away from Him. Sadly, though, sometimes I waste the time I could have with getting to know God better on lesser things: social media, movies, TV, and the like.

Nothing is wrong with these methods of communication and entertainment. However, I admit they can often leave me feeling more empty than filled.

Also, I can sometimes crave silence for my own comfort, ease, and selfishness. It's not to know God better, is just to be left alone! Relationships can be hard, messy, and draining. It takes commitment! But God isn't calling me to retreat within myself and away from others either. He wants me to be willing to lay aside my own ease and quiet at times to do work He's prepared for me, whether it's meeting my child's needs or meeting with a friend or taking a meal to a new mom.

The tension between doing and being. Of serving others and communing with God.

Life with three kids five and under means there's not many quiet moments in the day. Choosing to homeschool means there's also not many times when I find myself without my kids. So I realize more and more I need to capture random moments to draw near to God, whether praying when folding laundry or meditating on memorized scripture while making dinner. I shouldn't relegate my time with Him to just my morning Bible reading while children wake and interrupt and I stare at the page blurry-eyed with sleep.

In yesterday's unexpected stillness I was reminded, to draw near to God all day. Even when I'm feeling sick sitting in a car.

 

9 of 12

We love apples around here! Last week we got two bushels of apples to eat and make into tasty treats. Not to mention the kids would eat several whole apples a day if given the opportunity! The first thing I made was an apple cake, recipe given to me by my friend, Briana. The recipe for the cake itself was virtually no different from other apple cake recipes I had, but the topping, oh the topping! A must-try fall favorite! Enjoy!

Apple Cake

Beat 3 eggs Gradually add 2 cups sugar Blend in 1 1/2 cups of oil (I use canola) and 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the following dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients: 3 cups flour 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. baking soda

Stir in 3 cups peeled, chopped apples and 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Pour into greased and floured 10" tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hr. 15 minutes

Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes before turning upside down on plate. Topping (which is the best part of the cake, so don't skip it): 1/2 cup butter 1/4 cup milk 1 cup packed brown sugar pinch of salt

Boil this for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over warm cake.

 

September Instagrams

September held a huge milestone for us: we officially started homeschooling! Having been homeschooled for 12 years myself, I was looking forward to beginning my own journey as a teacher with excitement and trepidation. This year we became part of a new homeschool community called Classical Conversations. September came and with it, our initiation into this new group! It has been a great experience. Another exciting milestone is that Duncan and Owen are officially reading! We are making our way through the "Bob" books. The picture below was after they'd each successfully read through the first book.

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Above was the kids' first day at Classical Conversations. Sophia loves her class too and is excited each week to attend "Sophia's Class."

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We visited Baltimore's Science Center and made a sweet stop at Pitango on the way home!

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Our free outdoor furniture got a makeover (above).

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Duncan decided to get inside the fridge to figure out how the light turns off when the door closes.

We made donuts sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar last week at my mom's house. So tasty with a glass of apple cider!

AND, I won a book from Ungrind by Angie Smith!

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How was your September?